Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998


Now um, you knew none, none of this while you were in, in hiding, but um, but you learned it all later, of course. You were in hiding, without, maybe without even knowing it, you were in hiding. What do you think the consequences of being a hidden child are in later life? I mean, listening, I've listened, listened to your story several times. The question of identity comes up, problems about being abandoned at one point. I mean, it was your father, presumably, wisely, but from a child's prospective maybe not so wisely, gave you over to somebody else. How do you, how do you get through it or how do you deal with that?

Oh um, [pause] I don't know uh, you just um, I'm sure it doesn't--and uh, it doesn't help um, we had, had this, what was the term we were--we had a discussion in our group um, about whether we're damaged goods or not.

Which group was that?

That's the Hidden Children's Group. And we had a long discussion about being damaged goods. And some people said, "We're not damaged goods." And some of the people says, "We are and we're proud of it." And that's kind of the way I think of it. It, it's, you know, it's terrible to say some of these things build character, but I, well, I think they distort us in some ways. I mean, my family thinks I'm pretty screwed up. I mean my, my wife and my children, they think I'm a nut case. I don't think so. I think I'm really pretty well-balanced. But um, um...

Let me ask it a little different--let me put a little different: When do you think you came out of hiding and why?

When I came out of hiding?

Yeah. I mean in the, sort of metaphorical terms?

Well I, hm, geez um, I, I don't know how that, how that stuff happens, you know. You, you spend, uh, you spend your life with uh, you know, goals and trying to take care of business and the next thing and getting an education and figuring out, you know, worrying about if you're ever going to get married and have kids, like--and what you're going to do for a living and, and all that kind of stuff. And I think with, with age and in my case, I mean, I became very political and, you know, got really involved in the anti...anti-war movement. And there was a connection. There was a definite connection between my childhood experiences and what I did later on. I became very political uh, in New York with, with, you know, left-wing circles and um, um, um, you know and, and always felt kind of a um, um, that there was, this was part of the tradition, that my father had died, you know, fighting these guys. And in some ways, you know, fighting for some kind of justice. And I felt that that was what I should be doing also, to this day. And then the, the, the, the, the, the, the Holocaust, you know, the personal thing, the children's thing, that came much more recently because of the, you know, the age, I think, thing. And uh...

Okay. Let's, let's stop for a minute and, and then we can come back and finish by talking about...


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